17 “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new.
18 All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation,
19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.
20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us. We implore you in Christ’s stead: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (italics supplied)
As we continue our study into 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 we should summarize a few aspects of the verses that we have studied so far. We have seen that being born again a new creature comes only by being in Christ. When we are in Christ we have moved from the Old Covenant and its way of thinking to being alive under the grace of the New Covenant. Also, the great benefit of being in Christ is that we are reconciled to God through Jesus sacrifice at Calvary where He took our place receiving the full wrath of God against sin.
Now, we notice that Paul tells his readers that God “has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (v. 18) What exactly does that mean? First of all it means that the Father has decided, in His wisdom, to engage us in the plan of salvation. We are not to be mere spectators sitting on the sidelines watching Angels and the Holy Spirit proclaim the good news of salvation. We are called to be partners with the Holy Spirit in the proclamation of the Gospel. We might wonder why God would chose to present His power, grace and wonder to a fallen world through such imperfect messengers? It is exactly because we are so imperfect that we become such effective witnesses.
Absolutely no one could relate to an Angel, but our testimony has power because people experience sin, disappointment, failure and pain in their own lives just as we do. I believe what Paul is telling us is of the utmost importance because he is reminding us that the message we are to carry to society is one of reconciliation with God. When we come to the understanding of how wicked we truly are and in spite of that rebellion and treason in our hearts we are still loved and adored by God, something changes in us. We find freedom, hope, joy and peace and along with those blessings we want to share that good news with others.
This is the message of reconciliation Jesus has called upon us to share with others. Jesus came and lived the perfect life of obedience that we couldn’t. He carried that perfection to the cross and through His death He paid the penalty for sin so we wouldn’t have to pay with our lives.
It is a great trade in which Jesus took our sins upon His shoulders and carried them along with our guilt, shame, judgment and rebellion to the cross and in their place gave us eternal life. “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (v. 21)
When we accept Jesus as Savior of our lives we step out of death and into life. We leave behind the power of sin, death and Satan and walk in the newness of life. Did you notice that reconciliation with God through Jesus comes from God? There is no mention of anything that we do to make reconciliation happen, it is all God’s initiative and His doing.
Now do we want the really good news of the Gospel? “That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.” (v. 19) (italics supplied)
Is that not wonderful news indeed? This is the promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:34 that our sins will be remembered no more. God speaking through Isaiah stated, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins,” (43:25).
The writer of Hebrews wrote concerning God, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more,” (8:12). 1 John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Other texts remind us that our sins are hidden behind God’s back, as far away from us as the East is from the West, that they are thrown into the deepest part of the sea and wiped clean.
There is no doubt when we accept the cleansing power of Jesus in our life our debt of sin and corruption is wiped clean as well as removed and forgotten, never to be held against us again. This is good news for a world drowning in despair, loneliness, and fear.
We carry this message of reconciliation to our communities through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God and also through our personal experience. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
God calls upon us to love Him with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves and now He calls upon His followers to love one another. This is how we become ambassadors for God (v. 20) and proclaim the power and glory of God; it is when we reflect the love that saved us back to others.
God is love pours through every thought and teaching of the New Covenant and that love cries out “your sins are forgiven” because Jesus made it so.
* What does it mean to be in Christ? It’s when you are so in love with Him that you are willing to give your life for Him. Many people around the globe are currently experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death, this is being in Christ. They need our support and prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…